Using Science to Identify key Leaders
SupHerb Farms: A Case Study for Data-driven Leadership Assessments
SupHerb Farms was founded in 1992 in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley, one of the most fertile growing regions in the world. Headquartered in Turlock, California, The company is a supplier of individually quick-frozen herbs, specialty vegetables, purees, and culinary pastes and blends for food manufacturers and foodservice operators.
With a passion for service, excellence, and creativity, they have become North America’s preferred supplier of specialty culinary ingredient solutions. At the core of their culture is a team-focused approach to creating solutions that are delivered by 200-plus dedicated employees—all of whom strive for total customer satisfaction in everything they do.
As a fast-growing company, one of SupHerb Farms’ top priorities is management succession.
As key members of SupHerb Farms either retired, advanced, or left the company, it needed to have a clear strategy for hiring next-generation leaders. Though they had successfully used leadership assessments provided by People Strategies in the past, their priorities became more well-defined, and with that, so did the talent they were looking for. More importantly, the type of talent they were not looking for.
SupHerb Farms is a very tactical and operationally-driven organization. It realized after one particular hire that didn’t work out that there are just certain personality traits that don’t work well within their type of organizational structure and culture.
There were two main challenges SupHerb Farms experienced when it came to hiring executives. One, like many other companies in the current employment landscape, was finding candidates that were interested in the position.
The second was overshooting for the right candidate. While the company is growing and profitable, with 200 plus employees and 100 million in annual sales, they still consider themselves relatively small compared to other businesses. What SupHerb found was that it needed leaders who: focused on operations, didn’t focus on sales without the due diligence to back it up, and were hands-on. The company realized that when they aimed for executives that came from the highest level, those individuals didn’t share the same goals and tended to be too self-involved or arrogant. While that type of personality may be a good fit for larger corporations, it was not for SupHerb Farms.
Once again, when it came time for their next executive hire, this time a new VP of Human Resources, SupHerb Farms called upon Dave Dubin, Ph.D. of People Strategies to provide leadership assessments for the two candidates they were recruiting.
To better understand what the company was looking for—in terms of red flags, mostly due to personality types, Dave visited its manufacturing facility where he got a tour and a first-hand view of the company and its culture, all of which helped him tailor the assessment services.
Using a science-backed approach, Dave administered a leadership assessment rooted in psychology that digs into the behaviors, personality, and experience of an individual and measures them across four dimensions—Strategist, Stakeholder, Supervisor, and Self. The value placed on any one competency is dependent on the expectations and responsibilities of the role in question, but all dimensions represent critical areas needed in broad, scalable leadership positions. The approach provided valuable insights and actionable information to help ensure the company made an objective, science-backed hiring decision that would create better business outcomes and a long-term talent fit. Dave performed the assessments, conducted a two-hour interview with each candidate, and provided a comprehensive debrief to SupHerb’s hiring managers detailing the candidates’ strengths, opportunities, and overall fit within SupHerb Farms.
By using this science-backed tool, Dave was able to assess the two candidates’ effectiveness and work styles without bias. He presented detailed findings about their leadership styles and noted areas that might indicate a risk and other areas that indicate a strength. SupHerb Farm’s used the assessments to make a final VP of HR hiring decision. People Strategies continues to support the transition including debriefing the new hire to help him understand his strengths, opportunities for growth, and how to best onboard into the organization.
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